Great Big Sea's third album and first to go multi-platinum, Play
established this little band from Petty Harbour, Newfoundland, as one of the country's most popular groups. It's probably the best representation of their early sound, which combined East Coast folk and sea shanty traditions with a polished rock style. Play
boasts an array of traditional tunes--including "The Night Pat Murphy Died," "General Taylor," and "Jakey's Gin"-- and these tales of bootlegging and donkey-riding are all given vigorous performances. The band also had hits with the Oysterband's "When I'm Up (I Can't Get Down)" and "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," which renders the R.E.M. classic as a wild jig. Band members also contribute some fine originals, like singer-guitarist Alan Doyle's ballad "How Did We Get from Saying I Love You..." and singer-bodhran player Sean McCann's equally plaintive "My Apology." Though Play
does have a handful of delicate interludes, the disc's energy rarely flags. Producer Danny Greenspoon allows the band's performances to sound as fresh and live as possible, and there are excellent guest contributions by the likes of violinist Oliver Schroer, percussionist Rick Lazar, and Blue Rodeo's Greg Keelor and Jim Cuddy. Only the unlisted bonus track--a pseudo-techno reel--sets a foot wrong. Otherwise, the lively Play
seems tailor-made for your next drunken wedding. --Jason Anderson
Newfoundland, Canadian Celts' 1996, third-ever release. Includes an interesting cover of Rem's 'End of the World', plus a whole LP's worth of traditional Irish-based songsmithy: 'Night Pat Murphy Died', 'Donkey Riding', 'Greenspond' and more.